In addition to therapeutic innovations and concerns about availability and access to proper disease management and medication for all patients, the oncology community—especially the breast medical oncology community—has become more attentive lately to quality-of-life issues that patients with cancer face. In that line, the Lebanese Breast Cancer Foundation (LBCF) has been organizing support group meetings and workshops for patients with advanced breast cancer regularly for the last 10 years.
Lately, LBCF resumed its in-person activities and organized a workshop for patients and caregivers called FOR HER, supported by SciencePRO and sponsored by Pfizer. The workshop included formal lectures, question-and-answer sessions, and an open forum for discussion between a faculty composed of two oncologists, Dr. Naji ElSaghir and Dr. Fadi Nasr, from Saint Joseph University in Beirut, psychologist Hiba Salem from AUBMC, sex therapist Sandrine Atallah, life coach Grace Khleif, oncology nurse Latifa Shihab, nurse and breast oncology specialist Rebecca El-Asmar, and breast cancer survivor and new president of LBCF Mirna Sabbah Hoballah, with an audience of breast cancer survivors, advocates, patients, and caregivers. It was amazing to see how eager patients were to hear about recent advances in therapy as well as dealing with effects of cancer diagnosis and metastasis on their lives.
They expressed gratitude knowing that a multidisciplinary team is involved in making plans of treatment for them and for following up on their care. Emotional and sexual issues for patients with advanced breast cancer and their partners were openly discussed. Acceptance, coping, and adjusting to breast anatomical changes, body image, and premature menopause were debated. It was obvious that relationships with family members and children, management of family conflicts, daily schedules, and social activities matter a lot and should be openly discussed and supported. This workshop that included medical teams as well as patients, caregivers, survivors, and advocates was a great learning experiences for all parties.